Jeff XuCar and Driver
Here at Car and Driver, the station wagon holds a special place in our hearts. Its longroof body style combines the best attributes from traditional family sedans and increasingly popular crossovers and SUVs. Regardless of skill set, we think these are the best station wagons you can buy today, offering the best combination of all-weather capability, driving responses, cargo capacity, passenger space, and styling.
Those who are interested in the best station wagons from 2020 can refer to last year’s list.
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Subaru’s successful formula with the 2021 Outback station wagon has been imitated by several of its rivals, but none of those copycats has managed to get as much traction. The slightly lifted suspension and ruggedized plastic lower body panels have both been found on other wagons, such as the now-discontinued Buick Regal TourX, and we expect Ford to try it soon on an upcoming Fusion Active. The Outback’s appeal lies in its adventure-ready appearance, standard all-wheel drive, and cargo-friendly cabin. Two four-cylinder engines are offered—a nonturbo 2.5-liter and a zestier turbocharged 2.4-liter. While the Outback’s handling won’t thrill a driving enthusiast, its ride is smooth and quiet, and it’s interior is roomy—a combination that should satisfy families and adventure seekers traveling to their next challenge.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz E-class station wagon’s key attributes are there for all to see: it’s practical, great-looking, luxurious, and rare. That’s enough to make this lovely long-roof model a Car and Driver favorite. This year, the E-class wagon is updated with a new, more masculine look by borrowing styling elements from the Mercedes SUV lineup and wearing an adjustable air suspension to improve off-road capability. There’s still plenty of luxury to be found inside, though, and the E-class’s richly dressed cabin, robust features list, and numerous driver-assistance systems make it one of the better-equipped luxury station wagons available. Looking for something with a more on-road attitude? Check out the bonkers 603-hp Mercedes-AMG E63 S station wagon.
Mercedes-Benz E63 S Wagon
It’s much easier to list what the 2021 Mercedes-AMG E63 S wagon can’t do than what it can, which is why this machine is so special. The cans make for a very impressive list. Although it’s based on the regular Mercedes-Benz E-class wagon, the AMG version is modified to maniacal levels of performance. The most notable upgrade is its 603-hp twin-turbo V-8, which sounds like it runs on pure testosterone and hurls the E63 forward like one of Zeus’s lightning bolts. This station wagon is just as quick as some supercars we’ve tested, such as the Acura NSX and the Audi R8. It’s also much more than a drag-race king; it has racetrack-ready hardware that gives it unnatural agility and surprising driver satisfaction. The fact that this long roof model can haul a whole family and their luggage in a positively palatial cabin is further evidence that the 2021 E63 S wagon would be our ideal everyday vehicle if only its price tag didn’t contain six figures.
Practicality and luxury go hand-in-hand in the 2021 Volvo V60 station wagon, which is based on the Swedish automaker’s S60 sedan. Offered both in regular and lifted Cross Country guise, the V60 is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and can be had with either front- or all-wheel drive. A high-performance plug-in hybrid variant is also offered and brings big thrills to this grocery-getter— along with up to 22 miles of electric-only driving. The V60 and its SUV- inspired V60 Cross Country version have few competitors—the Audi A4 Allroad, the Mercedes-Benz E-class All-Terrain, and the larger Volvo V90 spring to mind—but its posh cabin, long list of standard features, and reasonable base price make it the bargain of the bunch.
Looking for something to break out of the cookie-cutter SUV mold but still need space for family and cargo? We suggest the 2021 Volvo V90: It’s beautiful, practical, fuel efficient, and luxurious—it really is the whole package. Buyers can choose either a 250-hp turbocharged four-cylinder with front-wheel drive or a 316-hp turbo- and supercharged four-cylinder with all-wheel drive. Are driver-assistance features interesting to you? The V90 has them all, and what’s more, they’re standard across the lineup. If the idea of bailing on an SUV is still too much, consider the lifted and ruggedized V90 Cross Country (reviewed separately).
Volvo V90 Cross Country
Volvo is a brand that’s well known for its wagons, and the Swedish firm’s latest long-roof models—including this 2021 V90 Cross Country—are moving this body style upmarket. Based on the normal V90 wagon, the V90 Cross Country adds a lifted suspension and standard all-wheel drive for improved capability in inclement weather. Like the smaller V60 Cross Country, the V90 Cross Country comes with more rugged styling cues to match its go-anywhere persona. Inside, real wood trim, sculpted seats, and a large cargo area balance practicality with luxury to good effect. Driver-assistance features abound, including standard automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection and a semi-autonomous driving mode.
Audi A4 Allroad
Audi’s A4 is a handsome, sweet-driving sedan, but what we really love is the A4 Avant wagon— which the German automaker reserves for Europe and other global markets. Instead, we get the rugged-looking, lifted 2021 A4 Allroad, which is almost as cool. Its extra ground clearance isn’t enough for it to undertake legitimate off-roading alongside Jeeps and Toyota 4Runners. But it gives the A4 Allroad the same kind of advantage as the Subaru Outback or the Volvo V60 Cross Country when it comes to tackling rutted dirt roads and snowy byways. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides peppy power with decent fuel economy.
Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo
The 2021 Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo is what you get when you want the sportiness of a 911 in the body of a station wagon. To be more precise, the Sport Turismo is the long-roof version of the Porsche Panamera sedan. Both of these four-door hatchbacks boast an array of powerful powertrains, including plug-in-hybrid variants (called E-Hybrid) that prioritize performance over fuel savings. Just peep the credentials of the Turbo S E-Hybrid: 689 horsepower, a top speed of 196 mph, and a host of track-ready hardware. What about the all-electric Porsche Taycan? Well, it’s not available as a roomy wagon or with the driving range of the gas-only Panameras. While the latter still lacks the immersion of the best Porsche products, the 2021 Panamera Sport Turismo and its kin are great to drive and deliver a truly luxury experience—for a substantial sum, of course.
Audi A6 Allroad
So what if it’s not the fire-breathing six-figure RS6 Avant? The 2021 Audi A6 Allroad is still a handsomely styled luxury wagon with its own party trick—an adjustable air suspension with better ground clearance for when adventures take a more rock-strewn path. The car’s spacious cabin is borrowed from the A6 sedan and is an exercise in 2020s modernism with its many screens and displays. It’s also well equipped with luxury features and comfortable enough for long road trips. The A6 Allroad’s exterior has been slightly ruggedized, with gray plastic lower-body cladding, large 20-inch wheels, roof rails, and revised front and rear bumpers. Too large and too pricey for you? Check out the A4 Allroad, which offers the same adventurous image and many of the same features in a cheaper, smaller package.
Audi RS6 Avant
America is the land of excess, except when it comes to station wagons, but the 2021 Audi RS6 Avant is a brutally powerful and bold-looking example of this rare breed. Based on the excellent Audi A6 Allroad wagon, the hot-rod version wears RS-specific bodywork and gets exclusive go-fast goodies. At its heart is a 591-hp twin-turbo V-8 that produces raucous noises and pairs with a paddle-shifted automatic transmission as well as a dynamic version of Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system. This terrific trio helps launch the Avant to 60 mph in just 3.1 seconds, and the quickest version tops out at 190 mph. While the wagon’s interior is as stylish as it is spacious, and there’s a surplus of luxury features, the real magic of the longroof RS6 is how entertaining it is to drive. Too bad it costs more than most of us can afford, which puts it in the same company as high-dollar, high-powered alternatives such as the Mercedes-AMG E63 S wagon and the mighty Porsche Panamera Sport Turismo. Still, the 2021 RS6 Avant is one helluva family hauler.
Mini Cooper S Clubman
It has the cheeky styling and nearly the same level of driving prowess as the smaller Cooper hatchback, but the 2021 Mini Cooper S Clubman has more room for junk in its trunk. The Clubman’s side-hinged rear doors open to reveal a cargo hold that’s nearly as voluminous as that of the Countryman SUV—though, that’s not saying much, as the Countryman isn’t a particularly roomy crossover. A turbocharged four-cylinder provides peppy power, and buyers can opt for all-wheel drive. The Clubman straddles the line between mainstream and premium: Base models compete on price with the Subaru Outback, but start adding options and this car’s outlay can easily raise to the level of luxury offerings like the Volvo V60. But the Clubman makes its case with an eager driving demeanor and iconic styling.
Mini Cooper Clubman JCW
Despite its station wagon classification, the 2021 Mini Cooper Clubman JCW feels more at home among hot hatchbacks, both in size and driving demeanor. The Clubman JCW is one of the quickest offerings in Mini’s lineup and churns out 302 horsepower from a turbocharged four-cylinder. All-wheel drive comes standard, and the Mini’s athletic underpinnings make it a joy to pitch down a twisty road. Plus, its charming exterior styling and unique cabin trimmings exude a youthful edge. The sportiest Clubman offers more cargo space than the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Honda Civic Type R hatchbacks but it also starts at a higher price, bumping up against competitor wagons from luxury brands, such as the Volvo V60.
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